The biggest development during Friday early afternoon window of games occurred at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where not only did the Atlantic 10 Tournament’s top seed, the VCU Rams, lose star guard Marcus Evans to a knee injury, they also ended up losing their quarterfinal to the eighth-seeded Rhode Island Rams, 75-70. With VCU the A 10’s lone at-large candidate this season, Sunday’s championship game winner will secure an unexpected second bid for the league. And that means some unlucky bubble team will feel a popping sensation at some point that evening. At the moment, I’ve projected the Belmont Bruins as that squad.
One thing we now can be fairly sure about is the Florida Gators’ NCAA chances. Mike White’s squad absolutely needed to defeat the LSU Tigers to keep themselves above the cut line. And they did — by a 76-73 count — thanks to freshman point guard Andrew Nembhard.
Not only did that defeat knock the Tigers out of the SEC Tournament, it might have eliminated them from the No. 1 seed conversation, leaving only the Kentucky Wildcats and Tennessee Volunteers as contenders from the SEC.
The other prominent bubble team in action in the early window, the Ohio State Buckeyes, wasn’t as successful as Florida, dropping their Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal to the Michigan State Spartans, 77-70. Chris Holtmann’s club still remains above the cut line, however. As for the Spartans, the win keeps them very much in the hunt for one of the four top national seeds.
Here’s how the cut line looks following the noon Eastern window.
Last Four Byes: Syracuse, Florida, Arizona State, Ohio State
Last Four IN: TCU, Temple, St. John’s, Alabama
First Four OUT: Belmont, NC State, Indianas, Texas
Next Four OUT: Lipscomb, Oregon, UNC Greensboro, Clemson
Friday’s full bracket post contains a complete rundown of all of the games to keep an eye on during the rest of the afternoon and evening. I’ll again be back with further updates as action rolls on.